A Tribute to Harry D. Krause: Mentor
Michael H. Hoeflich | 1997 U. Ill. L. Rev.
A law school achieves greatness not because of its building or its technology but because of the people who form its community. When I arrived at the University of Illinois in January of 1981, my first emotion was that of intimidation. As I looked at the faculty directory, I thought that I was reading from the list of casebooks and hornbooks I had used just a few years earlier as a law student: LaFave, Landers, Maggs, Rotunda, Nowak, Benfield, and, of course, Krause. My sense of fear and intimidation was not ameliorated when I discovered that these august figures made it a habit to arrive at the law school around 5:30 a.m. for coffee and discussion so that they could be at their desks at work by 7:00. Yet I rapidly discovered that there could be no better place for a young would-be academic than Illinois in those days, for though they rose in the morning at what seemed an ungodly hour and they all seemed to have an infinite capacity for hard work and painstaking scholarship, the fact was that these were truly wonderful colleagues and people. I look back on my early days at Illinois with both nostalgia and gratitude, for my colleagues of those days taught me how to be a law teacher and law scholar. One of the most important to me personally was Harry Krause.
When I think about Harry, I am immediately drawn to several scenes. The first is Harry in the faculty lounge upstairs in the early morning. There was a regular crew up there: Wayne LaFave, Ron Rotunda, and Harry. What was astonishing to me in those morning sessions was not only that these folks were awake, but that they actually carried on high-level discussions about the law. I will never forget one morning at about 6:30 a.m. when I walked into the lounge, and there was Harry discussing in great detail the legal ramifcations of an Australian case involving frozen semen and postmortem impregnation. At a time when lesser mortals can barely ask for the Cheerios, Harry was already into the higher reaches of jurisprudence and cryotechnology.
A second image of Harry that stays with me is of him in his office, surrounded by books and papers, working furiously to finish a new book or article. I cannot remember a time when Harry was not working on at least three scholarly projects, usually in family law and comparative law. And I cannot remember a project he did not finish. I can say now, with nine years of law school deaning under my belt, that the level of scholarly productivity maintained by Harry Krause during his career is unbelievable and enviable. Of course, on the Illinois faculty in those days, nobody seemed to realize how remarkably productive the senior members were.
I do not want, however, to paint a false picture of Harry Krause. And it would be false if I spoke only of his scholarship, as superb as that was. For Harry is truly a man of parts. How many law professors can claim to have ridden motorcycles, built steel sculptures for their gardens, sailed on numerous lakes and rivers, and finally, managed to get their charter captain’s license from the Coast Guard?
And Harry and Eva were the best of folks. I can remember many nights sitting at their dining room table having a splendid meal, always accompanied by good wines and conversation. Harry played host to junior and senior faculty alike, as well as to the many foreign visitors who came to Champaign-Urbana to the law school. I particularly remember those dinners when the weather was fair and Harry cooked steaks on his gas grill. Never before coming to Illinois and to the Krauses' for dinner had I understood the true beauty of corn-fed midwestern beef.
I would be remiss if I did not also record here how valuable a mentor Harry Krause was to me and countless other young faculty and graduate and foreign law students through the years. Though he was always occupied with his own scholarly work, he also always had time to counsel, to read and edit, and to discuss others' work. I always knew that I could ask him to read and correct a new draft of something I was working on. He never refused; indeed, he always made me feel welcome to come and see him and to seek his aid and advice.
There is always a tendency to think of our youth as a "golden age" and to allow nostalgia to cloud our backward vision. But I think it is truly fair to say that there was a golden age at the U. of I. when Krause, LaFave, Cribbet, Benfield, Rotunda, Morgan, Nowak, Maggs, Landers, et al. were on the faculty. It was a moment in the life of a great school. There were other such moments before, and there will be more to come. But it was a moment that I was permitted to share and thus is particularly important to me. And it was a moment made possible in part by the involvement of Harry Krause. He was and is a superb scholar and a marvelous colleague and friend. He enriched the law school for decades with his kindness, his incisive intelligence, and his rigorous scholarship. It is a great pleasure to be able to pay him tribute in this issue of the Law Review.
* Dean, University of Kansas School of Law. B.A. & M.A. 1973, Haverford College; M.A. 1976, Clare College, Cambridge; J.D. 1979, Yale.